Go, Go, Bordello! 

an opinionated guide to drinking in the city

Sweet Ups, 277 Graham Ave, Williamsburg

It’s easy for smaller bars to get lost in the overlappy mish-mash zone of Greenpoint, Graham Ave. stop, Grand Ave. stop, Lorimer stop, and Bedford spillover. That area is so densely bar-ated, with such nebulous borders (it took me a while to realize that the various L stops are only like a ten-minute walk apart — people always talk about them like they’re so far away) that it’s nearly impossible to feel like you’ve found every place. You know? As you’re walking to whatever bar you’re going to, you think that maybe if you turned down a side street or got off a stop later and walked the other way, you’d find some awesome gem of a place tucked away somewhere. And that you would go there and make friends with the bartender, and then later bring your friends there and they’d be really impressed and they’d say, “Oh, you, you always know the best places!” and you would blush and secretly agree.

Sweet Ups (Graham and Powers) is just the sort of place you’d love to find like that, if only everyone didn’t already know about it. It has the kind of low-key yet cool vibe that makes it feel like it’s either secret or new, even though it’s neither. The entrance is unobtrusive — it kind of reminds me of the bars in strip malls that one finds in many of the Southern states — but the inside is lovely.

The low ceiling, red banquettes, fuzzy red wallpaper, and flattering light, which, I know, sound like they would look like a cheesy bordello by my description, somehow combine to feel rock and roll cozy. The drinks are cheap and delicious, and there is a specialty cocktail menu that you can order from without sounding like a dick. In fact, everything about Sweet Ups is exactly like a million other bars, only magically no one gives you shitty attitude or makes you feel like a dick. It’s like there’s some kind of forcefield around the place that repels the sorts of assholes you find everywhere else, particularly in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side.

So if you are reading this and you are not an asshole, then be reminded: you should go to Sweet Ups more often. If you’re reading this and you are an asshole, then fuck you, asshole. Stop messing things up for the nice people.


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